What Is TQM?

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Total Quality Management is to a large extent, a culture and a way of life for organisations and companies. It is about reducing the number of errors or mistakes that are created within any manufacturing process, as well as increasing customer satisfaction and making sure that quality becomes an integral part of any company, from the top down.

One key focus on TQM is that the customer is king and a high degree of effort goes into ensuring that the customer is not just satisfied, but really pleased with the standard of service offered, or indeed, the goods that are manufactured. Because the customer comes first, they then act as the focus point for the business; everything has a purpose and that purpose is to satisfy the customer, leading to repeat custom, which in turn leads to the company being able to sustain even tough economic times.

Like so many management innovations, TQM originated in the 1950s in Japan and since the early 1980’s has been imported throughout the world.

It is more than a bolt on or add on to any management process. TQM is about a company or organisation becoming firmly entrenched in quality and this has to be in all parts of the company. Management have to lead in such a way that the workers can see that TQM is the way forward. It cannot be done in half measures; it is all or nothing. Delegating responsibility for implementing TQM is not an option, it has to be done by leading an organisation in a way that fosters the culture of quality. Moreover, that culture needs to invade the organisation and influence every activity and function that it undertakes.

Continuous Improvement

Part of the ethos of TQM centres around the need to have continuous improvement. It is not enough to improve the manufacturing techniques or the way that things are done and then assume that ‘quality’ has been achieved. Instead, any quality improvements have to be implemented, then assessed and monitored for their efficiency and then further improvements have to be drawn up and worked on.

Get Rid Of Waste

Similar to other Japanese management and quality initiatives, TQM has a keen interest in identifying and then eliminating waste from all processes and activities within a company. Thus the TQM systems and procedures look at how efficient and effective any processes are and then seek to add value to them and as a by-product, eliminate any waste.

TQM Is Tough

TQM is tough and not for the faint hearted. Many companies have tried to adopt the TQM principles and philosophy, only for their efforts to fail. But for companies who are able to implement this kind of quality system, the fact that it is not suitable for all is considered a good thing. In a sense it sorts out the wheat from the chaff. Those companies who are dynamic, focussed and very much the leaders in their field will be able to rise and meet the challenges of TQM. The weak will not be successful. This makes TQM a very good indicator of a good company. Through demonstrating that they can actually successfully run with TQM, a company shows that it is strong and very much focussed on the customer and quality as a whole, which in turn makes them able to attract customers who are drawn to companies who have a good track record.

So for those who can stand the pace, TQM is certainly a very positive reflection of their capabilities and their ability to go the extra mile when it comes to implementing quality and standing head and shoulders above their competitors.

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